Editor's note: This version of the story was edited to appear in the print edition of Modern Healthcare. View the full feature and video at modernhealthcare.com/learning-to-be-lean.
On a Wednesday morning early last month, a dozen nurses, housekeepers, surgical technicians and surgical assistants at Presence Health's Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center are running behind in their hunt for ways to save time on the hospital's busy surgical floor.
While other staffers performed their usual duties, the group, meeting in a conference room with a wall full of brightly colored Post-it notes, is midway through the challenge handed them by the hospital's leaders. They are spending a full week observing their colleagues' actions between surgeries to identify inefficiencies and devise a streamlined workflow.
On this third day, Maria Vela, peering at the wall with one hand on her hip and the other on her chin, suggests surgical technicians like her be given the task of carting new patients into the operating room. Nurses, who usually perform this task, are too busy entering patient information into the electronic health-record system and grabbing supplies to restock the rooms, she says.
“They would refuse, even in an experiment,” immediately counters Jackie Kostakes, the nurse on the team. Nurses need to verify patients' identities, a key part of maintaining patient safety, she argues.